Do you ever have those moments where you know that your thoughts are leading you down a dark path and yet you can’t help but follow helplessly? Maybe you’re worrying about something bad happening. Or you’re focusing on a bad memory. Or maybe your negative internal voice won’t shut up. What do you do in those instances? Where do those negative thoughts take you? How do you stop it from happening?
The first thing you can do is recognize it’s happening. Acknowledge that your thoughts aren’t focusing on what you want to focus on. Since you know that this happens, try creating a redirection for your thoughts ahead of time. For example, after my dog passed, my mind continued to go to that day; the moment at the vet’s office. I didn’t want to have my focus on that day so I thought of some happy memories that made me smile. Those were my redirection thoughts.
Or, create your redirection thoughts to match the outcome that you want. For example, whatever you’re thinking about happening, think about the outcome you want instead. Visualize the outcome in your mind and use that image as your redirection thought.
When your thoughts start to spiral, put on the brakes and throw up a stop sign in your mind. Tell yourself that’s not where you want your thoughts to go and pull up your redirection thoughts.
It’s a simple task to do but one that I’ve found extremely helpful in my own life. I hope you find it helpful as well.
It was the perfect storm. A combination of pre-existing anxiety, a mountain of stress and PMS. But guess what? I survived it! But not without a lot of love, compassion, help and understanding from other people.
I’ve been on a hiatus from writing which was only in part from the title. The other part has been due to a total disruption of my daily life – which contributed to the anxiety and stress.
We’re undergoing a major renovation on our house and have temporarily moved into a travel trailer at my parents house…with our three cats. I’m not sure if challenging is the right word – let’s say it’s been an adventure.
All I can say is thank God for my parents. For being so kind and gracious to not only have us stay in their yard but also take care of us – particularly that first week. I honestly believe that had it not been for them, we would have been eating cereal three meals a day.
As difficult as the lack of routine has been, I am truly grateful we have the means to make the necessary repairs to our house. I feel blessed to be where we’re at because only ten years ago living in a travel trailer in my parents yard wouldn’t have been a choice – it would have been a necessity.
Back to the title. A month ago, we had to pack our house, demolish our large deck as well as demolish a shed attached to the carport. It all had to be done in a week.
My anxiety kicked in. I was completely overwhelmed. My stress level made me feel like I would explode. Yet I knew in my mind that somehow, someway, we would get it done. It didn’t seem to matter what my mind believed because my body and emotions were contradicting it.
I had two meltdowns (I’m talking hysterical crying mess) while my poor husband held me and tried to convince me it would be okay. I couldn’t make him understand that I knew it would be okay because all he could see was that I wasn’t.
I called in sick to work thinking a day at home would be good. Then I called in the next day and my boss called me. I had a meltdown on the phone with her. She was amazing, compassionate and no -judgemental. We decided I would take the week off.
But I have to tell you that during all of this, I was embarrassed, confused and berating myself constantly. I felt so weak. And for the life of me, I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t handle what was going on.
My emotions didn’t match the situation. I knew that but I couldn’t get a hold of myself. Then, the instant my period arrived, my stress level dropped about 50% and I actually felt like I could handle things.
I don’t usually like to share so much information but I feel like it’s important because if I’ve gone through it then maybe someone else is struggling through it as well.
Now that I look back on the week from hell, I have so much compassion for myself. Having any single one of the issues in the title can be overwhelming but to go through all three at once is a true accomplishment in my opinion!
Whatever you’re going through, try to be kind to yourself. Remember that you’re not alone. Sharing our troubles with other people not only gives them an opportunity to help but it takes some of the power away from our own emotions.
I’m not sure who said it but I read somewhere that pain shared is pain halved. Let people surprise you with their compassion, empathy and understanding. They might also surprise you by sharing their own story and helping you feel like you’re not alone.
Gratitude is a huge part of happiness because it changes our mindset so that we focus on the positive.
Every morning, I write in my gratitude journal. Some days it seems like I don’t have much to be grateful for. Those days, I start with the things that I appreciate the most. I am grateful for my family, my home, my job and the possibility of tomorrow. Every single day, I start my gratitude journal saying: Thank you for this day, I am truly blessed to be alive. We all know that tomorrow isn’t granted to everyone, so it’s important to be thankful for today.
When we’re going through something difficult, it can be challenging to be grateful. This is when it’s most important to do so.
A most recent example for me was when our dog passed. It was heartbreaking. How could I feel gratitude when my life felt so dark? My life felt dark because I was focusing on the loss instead of the time I had with our dog. Each time my mind led me to the final vet visit, I had to replace that with a happier brighter image. I’d put a stop sign up in my mind whenever I’d think of that final day. Instead, I’d recall the memory of our little dog stealing carrots out of the garden. I’d remember how she’d lift her legs as high as they could go when she was being lowered into water. Sometimes I’d replace it with the memory of how she’d look running across the yard. Or how she’d do anything for food.
I didn’t want that one horrible day to take away from the thirteen years of good memories. I didn’t want her death to be more prominent in my mind than all the love and joy she brought me. When I’d stop the dark thoughts and replace them with the happier ones, I felt instant relief. This allowed me to feel grateful for the many years we had with out little dog.
We’ve all gone through trying times. But not all of us realize that being grateful can help us overcome those times. Whatever you’re going through, realize that focusing on the negative aspect of it will make you feel bad. I know first hand how difficult it can be to rid yourself of those negative thought patterns. I know what it’s like to be so consumed with the darkness that you can’t see the light. I also know that even though we can’t always see the light, it’s always there. All we have to do is shift our thoughts.
If you can’t find the positive in a situation that you’re going through right now then focus on the basics in your life. Some how, some way, you’re reading this now. That means that you have access to the internet. Be grateful for that. One simple thing. Then find another and another. Set a goal to think about 5 or 10 things you’re grateful for. Write them out. Write out why you’re grateful for them as well.
When dealing with financial issues: Be grateful for all the money you’ve had in the past – somehow, you’ve made it to today with the money you’ve had Be grateful for the many creative ways you’ve thought of to get money (taking in bottles, rolling change, selling things or tightening your budget) Be grateful for all the places that money comes from and all the ways it can come to you
When dealing with difficult people: Try to find something in them to be grateful for Be grateful that this difficult person is teaching you. They’re teaching you about yourself, your triggers, your patience or your level of compassion and understanding. At the very least, a difficult person shows you exactly how you don’t want to be.
When dealing with health issues: Be grateful for the parts of you that are healthy Be grateful for the healing that is happening in your body Be grateful you have a doctor
When dealing with negative self-talk: Be grateful for one thing in your appearance Be grateful for one thing in your personality Be grateful for the people who help you see the good things in yourself
Today I encourage you to start practicing gratitude daily. Find a notebook or sit at your computer or write a note in your phone. Once a day, sit down and write out five or ten things you’re grateful for. No matter how small they seem. Be grateful you used your reward card and got a free coffee, be grateful when someone lets you into their lane, be grateful for the parking spot by the door, be grateful for your life. Go on Pinterest and search for ideas for your gratitude journal. Practice this daily for the next month and see how you feel. Five to ten things for one month.
I can tell you that this practice has made a world of difference in my life. I’ve been doing it a long time. When I haven’t been able to write my gratitude list, I feel like I’m missing something. The law of attraction states that you get what you think about. Ask yourself: “Do I want to attract more of these negative things into my life or more of the positive?” The way to attract the positive is by being grateful. Give it a try and feel free to let me know how you feel.
Maybe strong isn’t a word you’d use to describe yourself. I know it’s not one I’ve used very often to describe myself. Yet, we’re stronger than we realize.
Look at all the times you’ve made it through something you thought you’d never be able to handle. It could have been heartache, heartbreak, financial distress, illness, losing a loved one or massive changes in your life. Whatever it was, you did it. Somehow, some way, you made it through. That, my friend, takes strength.
For those of us who’ve lived with depression and/or anxiety, be proud of yourself. I know firsthand the strength it takes to make it through the dark days. There were times when I thought the depression and anxiety meant I was weak. I thought it meant that I couldn’t handle even the smallest things. Oh, how wrong I was.
Looking back now, I realize that surviving an internal battle of emotions was one of the hardest things I’ve done. Every day was a struggle and every day I made it through. So have you. We’re still here to tell our tale. It doesn’t matter if we went through those dark times a blubbering mess, or hiding beneath our covers. What matters is that we made it through. We hung on and things got better. That’s not to say there won’t be bad days – everyone has bad days. The important thing is that we work to have more good days than bad ones. More importantly, we decide that we won’t beat ourselves up for those bad days.
You don’t have to feel strong to be strong.
As I said, I never felt strong. I just know I am. It’s like a silent, quiet energy that lives deep inside of us. Sometimes we don’t even realize we’ve tapped into it until we look back. Think of all the times you’ve struggled but set your stuff aside to help a friend in need. Perhaps you did something wrong and you owned up to it. Maybe you shared your struggles with someone else. Telling other people you’re not okay takes strength. Maybe you quit your job to follow your dreams. Or, despite the heaviness weighing you down, you got yourself out of bed and forced yourself to start your day. All these things take strength.
The strength that we draw on comes with something else. Within that energy there’s hope. Hope that today will be better than yesterday. Hope that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Hope that one day we’ll wake up and realize how strong we truly are.
Whatever you’re going through, remember that it’s temporary. It’ll pass and you’ll find yourself on the other side. If you look back on the things you’ve struggled with, you’ll realize this is true. As I said, you made it through things that at the time seemed impossible. You are strong, brave and you can make it through even if you’re not sure how. Believe in possibility. Believe in yourself. Look inside and tap into that silent quiet energy that gives you strength and know that you’ll be okay.